2020 October Job Cuts Report: 80,666 Cuts as Employers Grapple With Uncertainty

October marked the lowest number of layoffs in seven months, as U.S.-based employers announced plans to cut 80,666 jobs from their payrolls, according to a report released Thursday by global outplacement and business and executive coaching firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

October’s total is 32% lower than the 118,804 cuts announced in September. It is 60% higher than the 50,275 cuts in the same month last year. October’s total is the lowest since February, when 56,605 cuts were announced.

So far this year, 2,162,928 job cuts have been announced, 320% higher than the 515,144 cuts announced through October last year. It is the highest annual total on record.

“The bulk of the announcements this year are indeed in industries directly impacted by shutdown orders and consumers’ wariness to spend money in such places, like restaurants, hotels, bars, and brick-and-mortar retail. We’ve now seen tens of thousands of cuts in industries outside Entertainment and Retail, indicating the impact is spreading,” said Andrew Challenger, Senior Vice President of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

“The lower numbers certainly indicate some companies impacted by shutdown orders were able to reopen and stave off cutting jobs. However, as case counts rise and more jurisdictions impose stricter enforcement, and stimulus money dries up with no coming legislation, uncertainty is likely guiding many company decisions on retaining workers,” he added.

The majority of cuts continue to come from Entertainment/Leisure companies, which announced 14,876 cuts last month. This is the lowest monthly total since 1,344 cuts were announced in the sector in February. Through October, Entertainment/Leisure companies have announced 845,954 cuts, up 6,773% from the 12,308 announced in the same period last year.

Energy companies followed in October with 11,787 cuts, bringing the year-to-date total to 47,736, more than double the 23,778 cuts announced in the sector last year. It is the highest year-to-date total for the industry since 2016, when 103,147 cuts were announced through October.

Transportation companies announced the third-highest total for the month with 11,475 cuts, as airlines grapple with reduced travel and lower revenue. This sector has announced 159,674 cuts in the first ten months of 2020, a 530% increase from the 25,341 announced in the same period last year.
Retailers have announced 179,520 cuts so far this year, up 151% from the 71,485 cuts announced through October 2019.

Demand downturn was cited as the reason for 25,281 cuts in October, the highest number for any reason. Market conditions followed with 16,529. Cost-Cutting caused 8,483 cuts last month, while Restructuring was cited for 7,945. COVID impacted 7,803 jobs in October, but leads all reasons in 2020, with 1,099,726.

Companies have announced 255,198 hiring plans in October, bringing the year-to-date total to 2,928,091. Of those, 699,900 are seasonal hiring plans for the holidays. Retailers are responsible for the bulk of these plans, with 1,096,678, as demand for grocery stores and online shopping skyrocketed during the pandemic, while Transportation companies like shipping and trucking announced another 737,500 hiring plans.

Download the full report below.